In its early years, India’s space programme was constrained by lack of resources but the country found innovative ways of getting ahead in space. ISRO, with successful and economical projects like development of PSLV, GSLV Mk-III, Mars Orbiter Mission, Chandrayaan etc has established itself as one of the pioneers in space. Also, with the future missions like Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan-3, Aditya L1 and SPADEX, ISRO is surely heading towards a formidable position in space sector thus benefiting the citizens of India on one hand and the global scientific community on the other.
However, in 2022, the space sector is witnessing a boom similar to what the information technology sector experienced in the 1990s.To be fully included in this shift and reaping its benefits, India needs to have an active involvement of private sector in space activities. This is made clearer by the following points:
Public resources- land, labour, capital are limited. Private sector participation will open a new pool of resources and talent. It will bring more funding, and experience into space exploration activities. With increased role of private players, ISRO can concentrate more on its pathbreaking innovations like Reusable PSLVs, Cryogenic rockets, mars inhabitation.
Every launch comes with risk. Privatising helps in sharing the risk of cost factor. Failure costs will be distributed. Also with increased private participation, failures will reduce due to increased available human capital and innovation. Joint venture brings the knowledge from various stakeholders minimises failures and increases productivity. India has successfully carried out many Public Private Partnership.
Developing a space industry ecosystem involving private sector will support the rise of Space 2.0 in the country has the potential to make space the next big technological leap in the country after information technology and bio-technology.Private sector’s involvement in the long term, as with other commercial sectors, is believed to help spur investment and expertise in the realm which is capital-intensive and demands high technology.The private sector already supplies majority of the sub-systems in satellite manufacturing. This can be further scaled up into other activities with proper regulation and partnership of the ISRO and private sector. The formation of NSIL and IN-SPACe have a promising future in this regard. The country must deregulate the space sector to encourage private enterprise if we are to compete in the new space economy.A new space policy could initiate the rise of India’s own SpaceX- like ventures.